Carrier networks made to measure: Page 2 of 5

May 04, 2017 //By Ross Cassan, Spirent Communications
Users churning between carrier networks may not realise just how finely these services are tuned to their devices, their service expectations, traffic patterns and possible overload scenarios. Customizing the mobile core to meet the demands of a smartphone generation is already a fine art, but it is nothing to the IoT and other challenges that lie ahead. We already have the test solutions to meet all these challenges, argues Ross Cassan, Director, Product Marketing, Spirent Communications. We just need to apply them more widely.

These tools do not simply throw bandwidth at the network, they will simulate not only the different types of traffic but also the types of usage conditions: for example the typical rhythms and patterns of a voice call are very different from a video stream or instant messaging. They can even record actual traffic conditions from real life and then magnify or distort them to mimic a signal storm – as when thousands of spectators simultaneously upload a dramatic moment in a sports arena. All these very diverse types of traffic can be massively scaled by the system and run concurrently, and you can even superimpose fault conditions and cyber attacks to see how the network would react, or services would degrade, under stress.

At the design stage, this means that the system can model the provider’s actual or proposed network in detail – including nodes, network architecture, Evolved Packet Core, servers and management – and it can emulate every type of mobile device likely to be used on the network, every type of service including VoLTE, WiFi APs and IMS, and every sort of user up to many millions of endpoints. It can also emulate any number and type of connected IoT devices and this will become especially significant.

This is very far from a “one size fits all” scenario. One might think that the basic requirements for an AT&T network would be the same as for Orange, BT or any other carrier. But each company has its own user profiles, contract packages, SLAs and business models – quite apart from the physical differences in the core networks. So this very stringent testing is not simply to ensure that the network works, but that it also satisfies the needs of every type of application and delivers a consistently high QoE.

This is what is already happening, and not only at the design and development stage. Similar testing can be integrated into the operational network to run end-to-end health tests, to isolate faults, validate upgrades, model cell-site turn up and backhaul loading. Landslide testing is already deployed by leading mobile providers worldwide – but according to a Heavy Reading report, 20% of outages are still only detected by operators when users report them on social media!

So is that the end of story?

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